If you’re a perennial worrier, the past year probably hasn’t helped. However, worrying never got anyone anywhere. Rather than let life get the better of us, wouldn’t it better if we figured out a way to stop worrying so much?
While there’s no way to eliminate one’s tendency to fret about the future, there are several things we can do to cut down on excessive worrying. In doing so, we stand a good chance of learning to enjoy life a lot more.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at five effective ways to worry less about the future:
Assess the risks and take appropriate action
It turns out most people are bad at risk assessment. Most of the things we worry about are unlikely to materialize, like murder. Meanwhile, we fail to safeguard ourselves against real threats. Convert irrational worrying into sensible action. For instance, rather than worrying about your mortality, use that energy comparing term life insurance vs whole and purchasing an affordable policy. That way, in the unlikely event your life is cut short, you’ve taken steps to minimize the financial impact on your loved ones.
Designate a time to worry
As said earlier, it’s impossible to eradicate worrying. With this in mind, consider designating an hour or two each week as an acceptable time to worry about the future. Assign a secluded space for your session and leave your phone and other devices outside. A pen and paper on hand is a good idea since it gives you a chance to express your concerns in a way other than letting ideas bounce around your head for 15 minutes.
Experiment with relaxation techniques
There are dozens of effective ways for chronic worriers to unwind and relax. Yoga, meditation, massage, breathing techniques, long walks, bubble baths, and listening to calming music are all viable ways to cast worry from your brain. Give these and other options a shot to see if there’s one or two you like. Aim for two: one that’s scheduled and one you can do at a moment’s notice. That way, you always have an outlet.
Accept what you cannot control
Unnecessary worrying often involves things that are beyond our control. There’s no useful reason to spend hours sweating over stuff we’re helpless to alter. Take steps to train yourself to let go of worry when it’s about events that we can’t influence or change. Recognize where you can make a difference and concentrate your energy on those things instead. For instance, you alone can’t do anything to stop climate change, but you can certainly do some things to minimize your carbon footprint.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
Many people are consumed with worry because they’re striving for perfection. While there’s something to be said for those who insist on getting everything right every time, doing so is practically impossible. Aim for the ideal, but be willing to settle for something a little flawed. Whether it’s finding the best deal on a new car or redecorating the living room, give yourself room for mistakes. Getting the job done 90% right is better than what most people achieve.
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.” While it’s a quote from a critically panned film – National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002) – it’s a worthy piece of advice. Worrying satisfies a compulsive desire but offers no solution.
Does the above-mentioned quote mean it’s okay to throw caution to the wind and live without concern for what comes next? Not at all. It simply highlights the inefficiency of worrying. Are you fretting over something you can control? If so, convert that energy to developing solutions. Are you worried about something you can’t control? Then find ways to accept that and move on with your life.
The bottom line is that worrying is not going to make things better. If anything, it makes things worse. When it comes to the future, figure out what you can do to affect it and admit you’re powerless to change most of it. Do what you can and leave the rest to fate. Chances are, the things you worry about the most are the least likely to happen.